Why do I care about death?
Everyday family life in the corona crisis
Many parents want to keep their children away from any awareness of death. But most children know about death and encounter it on a daily basis (fictional deaths in cartoons, films, books or real, but distant deaths in the news and often the death of an acquaintance, friend or family member). Even when a child sees a dead bird on the street, he encounters the reality of death. So it is not possible to shield our children from it.
Children should have the opportunity to learn about death through observation and experiences in their daily life.
That is why we should take advantage of all the opportunities that are available in everyday life to bring the basic ideas of death and grief closer to our children.
Dead birds, withered flowers, even the transience of nature offer good opportunities to tell our children what we think about life and death. At the same time, we can invite our children to share their thoughts and feelings.
When we tell children objectively and sensitively about dying, death and grief, they develop skills that they need to deal with a real death later on.
Accepting death as part of life makes its inevitability less intolerable. Children who have previously experienced death and grief are more likely to deal with a real death. There is then no need to develop incorrect and unhelpful coping strategies.
What do children think of death?
Children think differently about death, ask different questions and talk about death differently at every stage of their development. Although many young children do not understand death, they are curious and want to know about it. Often adults take the children's interest in death too little seriously because they believe that the children are still too young to understand it.
In fact, death affects children's lives at all ages, from infants to young adults.
How do children understand death at what age?
(Age information can only be guidelines!)
Children from 0-2:
They are not yet able to understand the term “death”, but that does not mean that they cannot feel the death of a loved one.
In this age group, the children see themselves as the center of the world, live in the present, are extremely curious and take everything very literally. It is important for adults to be aware of this when explaining the terms life and death. Use facts and reality as your starting point, because vague explanations and figurative language lead to confusion and thus increase the child's uncertainty.
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